Charlie Griffiths invites you to join him in the Decadence Dance and maybe learn some Nuno-inspired riffs and licks along the way.
Charlie Griffiths delves into the funky rock style of Extreme’s guitarist, Nuno Bettencourt.
Boston-based band Extreme formed in 1985 and released their debut album in 1989. Although it contained some great hard rock songs – Kid Ego and Little Girls, to name two – it didn’t quite propel the band to superstar status. For the track Play With Me, guitarist Nuno Bettencourt borrowed a section of Mozart’s Rondo Alla Turca, which gave a hint of what a guitar genius he was and also prompted the producers of Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure to include the song in the movie’s soundtrack, giving the band a taste of worldwide exposure.
A year later the follow-up album, Extreme II: Pornograffitti, was released and the singles More Than Words and Get The Funk Out appealed to a wide range of fans. The sound of the band was influenced by Van Halen, but also evident were the hooky riffs of bands like Led Zeppelin, chord changes a la The Beatles – all packaged with the layered production and vocals reminiscent of Queen. Extreme continued their run of success in 1992 with III Sides To Every Story; a concept album in three parts: Yours, Mine and The Truth. By the time the fourth album Waiting For The Punchline was released in 1995, the band started to drift apart, Nuno going on to pursue a solo career and eventually playing with Rihanna. In 2008 Extreme surprised everyone by returning with the critically acclaimed Saudades de Rock, which was lapped up by the fans. The band celebrated Pornograffitti’s 25th anniversary by performing the album in its entirety. This album is an Aladdin’s cave of riches; the songs are full of intricate, funky, syncopated riffs, which are all played with an ease and confidence that belies Nuno’s 24 years.
With the following examples we look at these different aspects of the Nuno’s sound starting with a typical driving riff. These require good hand synchronisation in order for the legato and picked notes to flow.
Next, we look at a syncopated riff in which the focus is on the upstroke rather than the downstroke. This off-beat feel gives the riff a bouncy funkiness and also means that you can stay ‘in the pocket’ with the drummer.
Riff 4 is an example of how a phrase can move across the beat, while our final riff uses a repeating ‘dotted eighth-note’ delay to fill in extra notes between the played eighth notes to create a constant stream of 16ths with only half the effort! Our final example is a solo featuring a typical Nuno two-handed tapping pattern using string skipped arpeggios as heard in the solos for Get The Funk Out and He-man Woman Hater.
Nuno Bettencourt plays brilliant rhythm and lead